Epigenetic control of excess adipose tissue accumulation in children (Prof. Dr. Antje Körner)
Classical genetic approaches identifying a large number of genetic variations associated with obesity left a large proportion of the heritability of obesity unexplained. Epigenetic changes such as aberrant DNA methyla-tion and its dynamic role in regulating gene expression play a critical role in the pathology of complex disease and have been implicated in development of obesity, particularly as they link environmental factors to genetic predisposition.
We hypothesize that dynamic epigenetic changes and their impact on gene expression contribute to excessive accumulation of body fat and ensuing early development of obesity in children. Here, we will employ the epigenetic approach by i) evaluating differential DNA methylation patterns for their association with childhood obesity, ii) evaluating how aberrant DNA methylation is distinct in adipose tissue between lean and obese children and how this relates to changes in mRNA expression pattern, and finally iii) assess the functional role of identified candidate genes for human adipogenesis and excessive fat accumulation.